Last week I went to an exhibition themed « Wanderlust », which in German means the joy of wandering. It featured famous paintings of people wandering in nature. Already in the 19th century and before TVs, computers and smartphones entered our lives, people knew that being in nature made them feel good.
In our day and age, many of us spend whole days or even weeks inside. We get up, get into the car or the underground, go straight to work, eat in front of the computer, and then go straight back home. We spend time outdoors only to go from an indoor space to another as quickly as possible. Nature is right outside our doorstep, but we don’t connect to it. The author Richard Louv even coined the phrase Nature deficit disorder in 2005, describing it as the human cost of alienation from the natural world.
Why is connection to nature important? Sure, we have all experienced that feeling of bliss after spending time outside. But is there any substantial evidence that it can improve our health and happiness? The answer is yes. Studies have proved again and again that nature can positively affect our health and well-being.
For those of you who want the data, a recent evaluation shows scientifically and statistically how significant nature really is for our health. Within the framework of this evaluation, feeling a part of nature was shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety.
So how can you spend more time in nature if you live in a city? Here are a few ideas that are easy to put into practice:
Go to a park. Not all cities have big parks (talking to you, my Cypriot friends), but when was the last time you visited one? Even if you can go walk through the park in 7 minutes, those 7 minutes are well spent. Next time you go, try taking your shoes off and walking barefoot on the grass and see how that feels.
Try growing your own herbs in your garden or balcony. Studies have shown that gardening can be really beneficial for our health. And what better feeling than cutting your own basil for your salads or using home-grown tomatoes for your sauces?
Bring nature to you. This may sound lame, but at the very least, buy a plant to put on your desk (here are some more reasons why this can be beneficial) and decorate your indoor spaces with plants and flowers.
Go wandering yourself. Plan a weekend trip into nature. Whether that’s hiking, visiting a lake, or sitting on a beach, prioritise some quiet time, enjoy the scenery, and take in all the benefits of nature.
Get out. We were not meant to be spending most of our time sitting down, inside. Nature awaits you.
How would you like to connect to nature?
How nature contributes to mental and physical health: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/shi.220
The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
30 Days Wild: Development and Evaluation of a Large-Scale Nature Engagement Campaign to Improve Well-Being
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